Supervisors mull changing worker insurance plans
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 25, 2014, 19:09
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors is considering a change to the county's employee insurance plan which could exclude employees spouses from coverage.
Supervisors on Monday met with officials from the county's insurance carrier, Fox/Everett.
Fox/Everett representative Diane Moore told supervisors Monday that increased claims in the past 10 months caused the county to get much higher insurance quotes for the upcoming contract year.
"This is one of the worst years Hancock County has seen, claims- wise," Moore said.
In the past 10 months, county employees have submitted more than $2.3 million in health insurance claims, she said.
Moore said Fox/Everett was only able to secure two quotes for the next budget year, which begins in May.
If no changes are made to the insurance plan, the estimates for next year range between $3.1 million and $3.3 million in claims, she said. If supervisors do not make any changes to the current plan, the county could see up to a 25 percent increase in premiums next year, officials said.
One option to lower costs is to eliminate spouses from employees' insurance coverage, Moore said.
The option would eliminate medical coverage only for spouses. Dental plans would still be included and children's medical would not be cut, officials said.
Hancock County currently has 254 employees on the insurance plan, 93 which have spouses covered.
The employees who have family coverage with spouses included pay $205 per month, while the county picks up another $700 per month of the insurance tab.
If spouses were removed from the plan, the employees would each see about a $60 per month drop in their portions of the reimbursement, officials said.
Eliminating spouses from the plan would save the county about $1.2 million in claims, Moore said.
Keeping spouses included in the plans could raise premiums by up to $466 a month, officials said.
Board of Supervisors Vice-President Steve Seymour said he understands the financial constraints facing the county, but said eliminating spouses should only be a "last resort."
"This is very sensitive," he said. "Our employees have not had raises for years and for a lot of them, this (insurance) is all some of them have. Before I make any decision, I want all hands on deck."
District One Supervisor David Yarborough said the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act and other factors have been building.
He suggested looking for another insurance carrier.
"We have known about this for a while," Yarborough said. "I think it is time to get more proposals. This is Obama Care at its best. The working people have to pay for everyone else."
Board President Lisa Cowand said the county's options are limited.
"I don't want to knock the spouses off the plan, but what is the alternative?" Cowand asked. "There is no alternative. It is fiscally impossible."
Supervisors did not vote on the plan and agreed to take the matter up again at next Monday's meeting.
Seymour said supervisors are going to speak with department heads and continue to find alternatives before rendering a final decision.